Thursday, February 17, 2011

"The Waters of March"

OK, it’s not yet March, so why I’m I posting this Jobim song this afternoon?  Great question! 

It’s not simply because the song is (in my opinion) a masterpiece, both musically & lyrically.  No—it’s actually a bit of prelude to tomorrow’s Homegrown Radio post with music by Eberle Umbach.  Eberle asked that I post the song since she discusses it in reference to her own composition that you can hear on Robert Frost’s Banjo tomorrow.  So stay tuned for the rest of the story.

If you don’t know, Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote both the music & the lyrics—in fact both the Portugese lyrics & the English ones I’ve provided here after the video clip.  There have been many versions of “The Waters of March” (“Águas de Março” in Portugese), from Art Garfunkel to Rosemary Clooney & from Sérgio Mendes to Al Jarreau.  I particularly like a version the late Susannah McCorkle did on her album From Bessie to Brazil.  But to my mind, the combination of Jobim on piano & Elis Regina is unmatched—they there was such synergy between Jobim & Regina, & her style matches the words & music so beautifully (note: the video clip is not the same version as on the Elis & Tom album).

Hope you enjoy it, & check back in tomorrow to see how it connects with Eberle’s music!

 The Waters of March

(Águas de Março)

A stick, a stone,
It's the end of the road,
It's the rest of a stump,
It's a little alone

It's a sliver of glass,
It is life, it's the sun,
It is night, it is death,
It's a trap, it's a gun

The oak when it blooms,
A fox in the brush,
A knot in the wood,
The song of a thrush

The wood of the wind,
A cliff, a fall,
A scratch, a lump,
It is nothing at all

It's the wind blowing free,
It's the end of the slope,
It's a beam, it's a void,
It's a hunch, it's a hope

And the river bank talks
of the waters of March,
It's the end of the strain,
The joy in your heart

The foot, the ground,
The flesh and the bone,
The beat of the road,
A slingshot's stone

A fish, a flash,
A silvery glow,
A fight, a bet,
The range of a bow

The bed of the well,
The end of the line,
The dismay in the face,
It's a loss, it's a find

A spear, a spike,
A point, a nail,
A drip, a drop,
The end of the tale

A truckload of bricks
in the soft morning light,
The shot of a gun
in the dead of the night

A mile, a must,
A thrust, a bump,
It's a girl, it's a rhyme,
It's a cold, it's the mumps

The plan of the house,
The body in bed,
And the car that got stuck,
It's the mud, it's the mud

Afloat, adrift,
A flight, a wing,
A hawk, a quail,
The promise of spring

And the riverbank talks
of the waters of March,
It's the promise of life
It's the joy in your heart

A stick, a stone,
It's the end of the road
It's the rest of a stump,
It's a little alone

A snake, a stick,
It is John, it is Joe,
It's a thorn in your hand
and a cut in your toe

A point, a grain,
A bee, a bite,
A blink, a buzzard,
A sudden stroke of night

A pin, a needle,
A sting, a pain,
A snail, a riddle,
A wasp, a stain

A pass in the mountains,
A horse and a mule,
In the distance the shelves
rode three shadows of blue

And the riverbank talks
of the waters of March,
It's the promise of life
in your heart, in your heart

A stick, a stone,
The end of the road,
The rest of a stump,
A lonesome road

A sliver of glass,
A life, the sun,
A knife, a death,
The end of the run

And the riverbank talks
of the waters of March,
It's the end of all strain,
It's the joy in your heart.

Antonio Carlos Jobim


  1. I find this music rather hypnotic. Long after it has stopped, I'm still swaying.


  2. Hi Kat: Yes, this music stays with you, but in a good way I say.

  3. Ah, John, thanks so much for this! I've always loved both Jobim and Elis Regina. I'm firmly convinced that Portuguese is a much more poetic and sexy language than French.

  4. Hi Roy: So glad you liked it! It's certainly very poetic & very sexy in this song.


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